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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

288                   THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                CHAP.
•
Under martial law, the censor can forbid all discussion in the Press, but the stress laid upon this thorny question in the resolutions passed at the conclave of members of the Legislative Assembly shows that, whilst had it been handled with wisdom and frankness from the beginning it might have always remained an economic question, it has now passed into the dangerous domain of politics.
There are other  and larger  economic  and financial problems which it was difficult to deal with under the restraints  imposed  on   our  veiled .Protectorate. . They ought to be far less difficult under our proclaimed Protectorate, and their solution is becoming more urgent. But they are forgotten in the sterile turmoil of political agitation.   Egypt is proverbially the land of paradox, and if it is startling to find an agricultural country par excellence exposed to acute distress from a shortage of essential food supplies, it is an almost more surprising paradox that, even when it has been enriched beyond the dreams of avarice by a war which has impoverished the greater part of the world, its legitimate demands for increased expenditure by the State on purposes of uncon-troverted utility cannot be satisfied because under an antiquated treaty system a large part of its enormously increased wealth lies  beyond reach  of taxation.   The political troubles in Egypt may be rightly regarded up to a certain point as part of the great cosmic  disturbance caused by the war, but there is one fundamental difference to be borne in mind.   Most countries in which the fever of political discontent is raging are reeling under the appalling financial burdens of a struggle which has shaken to its very foundations the whole fabric of economic   if not of national life.   Egypt, on the contrary, has never known such prosperity as the war has brought her.    Our war expenditure is believed to have poured altogether at least £E.200,000,000   (the   Egyptian   pound   equals £1   Os.   6d.) into the country.   Its one great source of national wealth, the productivity of its soil, was never impaired, but, on the contrary,   appreciated enormouslyions, namely, the guiding of public opinion. An official assurance, rather haltingly worded, that all construction works connected with the Nile projects which involved the expenditure of Egyptian money would be suspended until the new Committee of Inquiry had reported was received with the same scepticism.lative Assembly, where it would have been their business to meet hostile criticism and define their own position. But it is not by masterly inactivity that Saad Pasha Zaghlul and his friends have acquired their hold upon the country. The Party of Independence haso add,  wouldt is El Azhar that provides throughout Egypt